IFDC and Partners Expand Cassava Plus Project to Rivers State in Niger Delta Region of Nigeria

May 12, 2011 – PORT HARCOURT, Rivers State, Nigeria, and MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala., United States – IFDC’s successful Cassava Plus (Cassava+) project has expanded into the Niger Delta of Nigeria through the Rivers State Cassava Initiative (RSCI). The RSCI is being led by the Rivers State Sustainable Development Agency (RSSDA), which is partnering with IFDC, the Dutch Agricultural & Development Trading Company (DADTCO), the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and Stanbic IBTC Bank.

Cassava+ is strengthening Nigeria’s agricultural sector by helping to shift cassava from a subsistence crop to a cash crop. The project is a public-private partnership (PPP) between IFDC and DADTCO. The project is financed by a Schokland Fund grant from the Directorate-General for International Cooperation (DGIS) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and is supplemented by private investments by DADTCO.

Cassava+ is developing a commercial cassava value chain that is focused on increasing smallholder farmers’ sustainable cassava production, as well as a sustainable market for their crops. This will improve the livelihoods of these farmers by increasing their crop yield and profitability. Since its launch in early 2010, Cassava+ has developed cassava value chains in Nigeria’s Taraba, Kwara, Kogi and Osun states.

The total investment in the RSCI is approximately €10 million, of which 30 percent funds an IFDC-led training and development program at the village level to assist participating subsistence farmers to transition toward sustainable commercial cassava farming. In partnership with RSSDA, IFDC is linking these farmers to appropriate agricultural mechanization technologies, farm management techniques and seasonal credit so that they can purchase agro-inputs. The program will increase the farmers’ agricultural production capacities and crop yields, and through market development also generate increased incomes and opportunities. IFDC will ensure that farmers integrate a sustainable management component into their farming systems so that their most valuable asset – their land – can continue to produce for generations to come.

The remaining 70 percent of the investment will be in the joint venture, which will build, own and operate the processing facilities required to produce the cassava flour/starch (buildings and infrastructure, flash dryer and three mobile processing units).

Nigeria is the world’s largest cassava producer, and between seven and eight million Nigerian farmers grow the crop. Until recently, however, an effective national policy to increase the production or use of cassava could not be implemented. Cassava has remained a subsistence crop, grown for home consumption and for sale only in local markets, because it spoils within 48-72 hours of harvest. This rapid spoilage, a lack of adequate and regular cassava supplies to “feed” processing factories and inefficient processing systems have prevented cassava from becoming a major commercial crop.

However, DADTCO’s innovative split processing technology is dramatically changing the way cassava is perceived, produced and processed in Nigeria. The company’s Autonomous Mobile Processing Units (AMPUs) process fresh cassava on-farm or close-by (instead of the crop having to be transported long distances to traditional processing plants prior to spoilage). The AMPUs provide an efficient method to reduce costs and bring the first stage of processing close to the production fields, creating opportunities for thousands of smallholder farmers to supply cassava with a guarantee of purchase. DADTCO’s technology allows AMPUs to be located in cassava production areas while the primary factory is located near a low-cost energy source. One of IFDC’s key responsibilities is to identify primary locations where farmers will be organized into clusters and sub-clusters of production to “feed” the AMPUs.

Each AMPU produces cassava cake, which can be used directly by the brewing industry or can be transported to a DADTCO processing factory to produce high-quality cassava flour (HQCF). The innovative processing technology opens up a new – and until now – untapped market for HQCF that competes effectively with costly imports (glucose, starch and wheat flour). DADTCO’s wet processing technology releases starch granules from the cassava tubers’ cells, providing a product that is in demand for both consumer and industrial markets.

The Rivers State cassava-processing factory will mirror existing DADTCO factories in Taraba and Osun states, which produce as much as 30,000 metric tons (mt) of HQCF per year. However, Nigeria’s HQCF market requirements are at least 1.5 million metric tons (mmt) per year, so there is a huge opportunity for smallholder farmers to increase their cassava production.

Recently, studies have been conducted on the market potential for value-added cassava products. For example, macaroni and spaghetti can be made with locally produced HQCF, replacing more expensive imported wheat flour. Tests indicate that Nigerian consumers like both the taste and texture of the products. Also, DADTCO’s cassava cake is a significantly more cost-effective ingredient for the brewing industry than imported glucose syrup or starch from barley. HQCF also can serve as a binding agent for food and industrial purposes. Market opportunities are as diverse as bouillon cooking cubes and mosquito coils. Finally, DADTCO’s HQCF, which consists of 95 percent starch, can be further processed into sugar substances for additional market opportunities, such as glucose (a simple sugar that is the human body’s main source of energy) used in making canned soups, beer, snacks, tomato paste, etc., and sorbitol (a sugar substitute) used in toothpaste, chewing gum, cough syrups and other products.

By linking participating smallholder cassava farmers to a guaranteed market, the RSCI will help them increase their yields and incomes, reducing poverty and generating economic development. Specific benefits of the RSCI include: doubling cassava yields of 4,500 participating Rivers State farmers’ from an average of 10 mt/hectare (ha) to 20 mt/ha; over 20,000 employed either directly or indirectly; over N1,500,000 (about $10,000) per day injected into rural villages in payment for fresh cassava tubers; increased individual farm size through a Cassava Plus-supported mechanization package; improved food security; and a positive contribution to the implementation of the Post-Amnesty program for the Niger Delta.

The amnesty program negotiated by Nigerian authorities and militants presents a unique window of opportunity to bring peace, stability and economic development to the cassava-producing areas of Rivers State (and possibly other states in the Niger Delta as well). The development model already proven by DADTCO and IFDC can substantially improve the chances of success for the armistice and help the region transition to peace.

IFDC is a public international organization, governed by an international board of directors with representation from developed and developing countries. The nonprofit Center is supported by various bilateral and multilateral aid agencies, private foundations and national governments. IFDC focuses on increasing and sustaining food security and agricultural productivity in developing countries through the development and transfer of effective and environmentally sound crop nutrient technology and agribusiness expertise.

IFDC Contacts:
Courtney Greene
+1 256-381-6600 ext. 357

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